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Evolve - Choose your Path Award winner

Choose your Path
by Mark Machlay at 09 March 2020, 11:49 PM

EVOLVE is the real deal when it comes to progressive metal. Formed in 2005 by guitarist Patrick Wise, bassist Cedric Savoy and keyboardist Benny Pendola. Unfortunately, the band went through many lineup changes before becoming stable. Drummer Sebastien Chavez joined in 2007 and has continued with them since then. But the real change was the addition of amazingly versatile and experienced vocalist, Jean-Marc Viller 2 years ago. They began updating their existing songs and formulating their full-length debut soon after

This band carries many influences, too many to name here and has combined unusual elements together to forge a new sound. They carry older progressive influences of RUSH, PINK FLOYD, and KING CRIMSON and combined them with more contemporary influences such as SYMPHONY X and PAGAN’S MIND. The most prominent similarity is with DREAM THEATER, sounding like a worthy successor to their 1999 album “Scenes from a Memory” in both production and tones. If John Petrucci had stopped messing with his tone – searching for that ugly “chocolate cake” sound he prefers now – and stuck with the perfect blend of bite, snarl but warmth and clarity so prominent in his pre-2005 sound, it would be Patrick Wise’s tone. It so refreshing to hear that treble-infused razor-sharp guitar tone again and to know that some, like myself, still prefer it.

Further influences can be hear in other elements. At first, Jean-Marc Viller’s voice both shocked and soured me. Sounding like a much grizzlier David Coverdale or Bruce Dickinson, quite frankly, I was not expecting Jeff Scott Soto of current Sons of Apollo from what usually contains more classically trained, almost operatic style singing. But, the seasoned Viller proved a much more versatile voice singing sweetly with no added vocal distortion on the as the intro to “Symbols”. His voice soon grows on you as seems so apt for a more aggressive guitar tone that what is used more commonly.

The entire record is a fresh masterpiece but certain tracks are just slightly more impactful than others. The seemingly singular epic – being the longest track at a crisp 8 minutes and change - “The Light At The End of the Labyrinth” starts out with an eastern-inspired intro with repeating piano motif before kicking into heavy riffage and ballsy singing. Going through many different feel and time shifts that are appropriately foreshadowed and linked, and a solo from both guitars and keyboards, it is absolutely sublime. “Symbols” is amazing simply for the aforementioned vocal versatility but also contains a RUSH-like buildup and payoff into a guitar solo that lets notes linger, isn’t flashy and suits the mood and melody so well, it simply just fun to listen to. But then there is “Time” – which gets a great acoustic rendition as a bonus track. Starting with twinkling keyboard riff and cool guitar riff under it that is straight out of the 80's, you get a slow anthemic chorus and even bass player Cedric Savoy gets a few small solo interludes connecting the sections. By the way, that “cool riff” from “Time”, sounds so similar to the ending of LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT’s “Another Dimension”, it has to be an homage.

This entire record is practically perfect in every way. Even if you prefer a more traditional vocal style, give it a chance and I have a feeling it will grow on you. Every minute is wonderful progressive metal fun and incredibly inventive. I eagerly await EVOLVE’s next musical output. If they continue with this more vocally aggressive progression of early 2000’s DREAM THEATER, I hope the progressive world takes notice and signs these guys as soon as possible!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Following
2. Neverending Journey
3. Time
4. The Light At The End Of The Labyrinth
5. Deal With Desperation
6. Symbols
7. Try Before You Die
8. Liberty
9. Time (Acoustic)(Bonus Track) Radio Edition
Jean-Marc Viller - Vocals
Patrick Wise - Guitar
Cedric Savoy – Bass
Benny Pendola - Keyboards
Sebastien Chavez - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 03 December 2022

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